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December 1, 2021



Wall of earth to keep out gipsies

Sussex, 22.3.2007 17:13, (Roma network)

A mud wall has been created alongside a bypass to stop gipsy families setting up home.

The 100-metre earth mound has been built in Bay Tree Lane, Polegate, after travellers camped on the land five times in the past year for up to two months at a time.

The ?1,500 structure was built by the Safer Wealden Partnership after householders blamed the gipsies for leaving rubbish and making the area hazardous.

Jean Cairns, secretary of Polegate Residents Association, said: "They just seem to make the most appalling mess and leave it for someone else to clean up."

The Safer Wealden Partnership is made up of representatives of Wealden District Council, East Sussex County Council, the police and fire service.

Sergeant Dave Price of Sussex Police said: "Unauthorised and illegal camping and parking on council land can at times be a real problem within the Wealden area.

"Often the land is left in a poor condition when it is vacated, which necessitates additional expense to restore it. Such illegal parking and camping can also cause considerable distress to residents."

Designers of the wall, or bund, say grass will grow on it, making it look part of the natural landscape.

Tim Guyton, a county council representative in the partnership, said: "The majority of travellers will stay then move on without there being a problem but there is a perception among members of the public they are dangerous."

Councils are not legally obliged to provide travellers' sites but local development plans can be blocked by the Government if they fail to do so.

East Sussex has four authorised gipsy sites but every one is full. There are six pitches in Lynholm Road, Polegate, five in Station Road, Hailsham, eight in Batts Bridge Road, Maresfield and seven in Redlands Lane, Robertsbridge.

The Sussex Travellers Action Group said local authorities should build more sites to prevent gipsies feeling the need to park in residential areas.

Chairman Sue Forrest said: "Local authorities cannot ignore the problem because sooner or later they will have to provide sites for the greater need."

Andy Whelan
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